TEMPE, Ariz. — The Arizona Cardinals received good news Monday on John Skelton: The quarterback has a low-ankle sprain rather than a high-ankle sprain, suggesting that the timeline for his recovery will not be as long as originally feared.
Skelton suffered the injury Sunday early in the fourth quarter of a 20-16 victory over the Seahawks at University of Phoenix Stadium. He was carted off the field and replaced by Kevin Kolb, who led the team on what proved to be a game-winning touchdown drive, completing 6 of 8 passes for 66 yards and a touchdown. In Skelton’s three-plus quarters of action, he went 14 for 28 for 149 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.
Preliminary tests Sunday night showed no fractures, and the prognosis Monday was even better.
“I’m not going get into how long it’s going to be, but it’s good news,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “We don’t think it will be something that’s going to hold him out too long.”
Asked whether Skelton will definitely be the starter when he returns, Whisenhunt was somewhat evasive.
“I don’t know even know why that would be a question,” he said before adding, “I can’t look into the future and say what’s going to happen six weeks from now. I can only tell you that we’ll see what happens with John and how quickly he gets back health-wise.”
It’s impossible to blame Whisenhunt for leaving the future open, as neither quarterback has played well enough to earn the coach’s unconditional backing. But if Kolb leads the Cardinals to an improbable victory at New England this week, or simply plays well, it would be foolish not to consider starting him again.
Kolb was asked how he would approach this week and the next few while not knowing whether he’ll start and when Skelton will return.
“The way that my career’s gone, the way that last year went, the way that it happened already this year, I’m not even worried about that,” he said. “I’m just going to go play.” TEMPERING THE NO-HUDDLE HYSTERIA
Given Kolb’s success in the no-huddle offense Sunday, as well as in the preseason, it might be logical to wonder why the Cardinals don’t do it all — or almost all — of the time.
There are a couple good reasons.
“The downside is you don’t give your defense a rest if you are to go three-and-out. You’re out there for 40 seconds and the defense is right back on the field,” Kolb said. “You have to be careful with it, especially with a good defense, like we have.”
Whisenhunt said the offense would be less effective if the Cards used it more.
“If you do only one thing, teams are going to scheme to stop it,” he said. “You have to be able to stay in a conventional offense and try to run the football.”
All the same, the Cards do plan to use the offense with both of their quarterbacks, and Kolb said he feels very comfortable in it because he has been running it since high school.
“You stop overthinking the game,” he said. “You just go out there, read and react.” OFFICIALS FORGIVEN
Whisenhunt was asked how he felt about an admittedly blown call late in the game on which replacement officials inadvertently awarded the Seahawks a fourth timeout.
“I, obviously, feel a lot better than I would have had we not won the game. The important thing about this is our guys didn’t let it affect them,” he said.
As for the added criticism the league is now facing in the wake of the mistake, Whisenhunt shrugged it off.
“Mistakes happen,” he said. “I’m thankful it didn’t affect the game.” O-LINE OK
Despite starting two new offensive tackles Sunday — left tackle D’Anthony Batiste and rookie right tackle Bobby Massie — the Cards allowed the Seahawks only one sack.
Whisenhunt praised the unit for its protection, noting that Batiste held up well against Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons, who posted 11 sacks in both the 2011 and 2010 seasons and had the lone Seattle sack on Sunday.
“That guy’s a very good pass rusher,” Whisenhunt said. “D’Anthony didn’t win every battle, but he did a very nice job.”
On the flip side, the Cards managed only 43 rushing yards, their lowest total since Week 15 of the 2010 season.
“We just didn’t have one pop,” Massie said. “We’ll have to get back to practice, look at the film and make it work.”
Massie admitted being nervous in his first career NFL game but added, “After the first few hits, it just felt like another game.”
WASHINGTON’S NEW DEAL
Linebacker Daryl Washington’s contract extension includes $12.5 million in bonuses and $20 million in salary over the next six years.
Washington is to receive a $2.5 million bonus when he signs the deal next week and is due an option bonus of $10 million next year. His annual salary figures are $2.5 million in 2012, $2.4 million in 2013, $2.9 million in 2014, $3.4 million in 2015, $4.4 million in 2016 and $4.4 million in 2017. Follow Craig Morgan on Twitter